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Matthew Lickona 6 p.m., Nov. 17
Hotel workers are complaining they don't make enough scratch, and hotel owners say they are afraid for their own sizable meal tickets, but at least one well-paid attorney from Sacramento and his legal associates are apparently making out big in the ongoing legal war against Democratic mayor Bob Filner regarding the city's so-called San Diego Tourism Marketing District.
The district, led by long-time hotel magnates C. Terry Brown and Richard Bartell kicked it off Friday when the pair, along with three lesser board members - Mohsen Khaleghi, General Manager, Hyatt Regency La Jolla at Aventine; Luis Barrios, General Manager, Best Western Hacienda Hotel Old Town; and John Schafer, Vice President and Managing Director Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego - voted to sue Filner in an attempt to force him to sign a contract negotiated by ex-GOP mayor Jerry Sanders, a major beneficiary of the hoteliers' political largesse.
Four members reported not present for the vote were Keri A. Robinson, Area Managing Director, Starwood Hotels & Resorts – San Diego; Patrick Duffy, General Manager Hilton La Jolla Torrey Pines; Robert A. Rauch, General Manager/Partner, Hilton Garden Inn-San Diego/Del Mar; and William Evans, president of Evans Hotels.
Only one member of the board [C. Terry Brown] was willing to speak to the media following the decision, and that was via a statement he read before a television camera after the group emerged from its lengthy non-public meeting.
Filner called the move a "rip-off" of the public by the city's most powerful hotel owners.
As Mayor I cannot and will not allow a small group of wealthy hoteliers to hold our economy hostage to their personal agenda of secrecy and greed.
Now those same hoteliers who have refused to negotiate for three months have decided to sue me in an effort to force me to sign an agreement that rips off San Diego taxpayers. Well I wasn’t elected to fight for the interests of a small band of wealthy hoteliers – I was elected to fight for the taxpayers of San Diego.
We wanted to interview the board members who voted to sue the mayor, but spokesmen intervened and forbade any contact.
According to board treasurer William Evans, president of Atlas-competitor Evans Hotels, who left today's board meeting before the closed session began, some of his fellow board members were not eager to be quoted because they were employees of corporate hotel chains and feared the publicity and negative job consequences such interviews might bring.
"These guys are in a really tough spot," Evans told us.
Said the union's Brigette Browning:
“The hotel industry leaders recently said that talking about hotel worker wages was a non-starter. We should not subsidize an industry that keeps its workers in poverty.”
Now the Terry Brown group may be set to fire off yet another legal rocket.
According to notice of a Brown-led board meeting set for this coming Friday, March 1 at 11 am, posted today as required by the California open meeting act, the board may be about to embark on another legal battle:
CONFERENCE WITH LEGAL COUNSEL – ANTICIPATED LITIGATION Pursuant to Government Code section 54956.9(d)(2) Initiation of litigation - 1 potential case
We asked a spokesman for the board at mid-morning today for more details on the pending decision to sue somebody, but have not yet heard back.